Friday, March 09, 2007

The Road Map Out of Iraq Leads Through Washington D.C. (in 2 Parts)

Part I: The Wail of Two Cities

(Apologies to Charles Dickens)

Hosting a web log affords one of few privileges and luxuries in return for all the hours of exercise, entertainment and enjoyment sacrificed from the real world. What it does afford me is the opportunity to put myself 'out there', on the record, and to engage in a robust dialogue with others who are concerned about the direction in which our country is being led. In these pages I like to address watershed, pivotal, central issues. My beguiling friend, Wizard, opened one recently.

I dub it the Wail of Two Cities (Baghdad and Washington DC). The following is excerpted from Wizard's March 4th thread (march forth !) and the Wall Street Journal which he quotes:
We are at a fork in the road in Iraq. We can either withdraw our troops in a rapid, yet orderly fashion and leave the outcome of our gross misadventure in Iraq to the Iraqi's . . . or we can stay and strongly support the current, flawed, Iraqi government we established.

. . . . This doesn't mean you can't condemn (or even impeach) President Bush for leading us into this quagmire. And this doesn't mean we can't hold George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld responsible for implementing one of the worst military strategies in American history.

. . . . the battle of Baghdad is now under way. . . . Will we allow our actions to be driven by the changing conditions on the ground in Iraq -- or by the unchanging political and ideological positions long ago staked out in Washington? What ultimately matters more to us: the real fight over there, or the political fight over here?
It's my position that,
  • the Battle of Washington takes precedence over the Battle of Baghdad;
  • the mis-governance of our country has to be corrected before we can contribute to the governance of Iraq's;
  • the occupation of the United States by an alien and un-American political movement has to be lifted before the occupation of Iraq can be brought to any kind of conclusion.
Wizard says my approach is one-dimensional, but he's wrong.

A few days ago, I posted (jus ad bellum) my central objection to this Bush-Cheney apparat: that it harbors one of today's greatest collection of internationally-feared war criminals. Because this column remained unchallenged at the head of this site for five days, I conclude I have made my point.

My next point seems obvious: if war-starters Bush and Cheney are long left unmolested by the American people, (many of whom share complicity in voting them into office), these warmongers will start another war, if only to diffuse the ignominy of their present disaster. For my American country, it's a little like shoplifting, as I told my high school students in my previous life: the worse thing that can happen the first time you try it is that you not get caught; because that means you will do it again and again (nothing succeeds like success) until you are ultimately caught when the stakes have geometrically progressed and compounded. There's nothing worse than a warmonger unless it's a serial warmonger.

Now, to be sure, my fellow American progressives have other grievances against the Bush-Cheney apparat, especially as pertains to the extra-constitutional misdemeanors of their principle apparatchiki, Karl Rove and Albert Gonzalez and their like. But, please excuse me from detouring into an itemized litany here; the list of grievances grows longer by the week as it has since this government by the party-that-hates-government has been in power. Since 9-11-01 Bush and Cheney have been frittering away the world's empathy and squandering the blood, treasure and trust of the American people. A growing number of my fellow countrymen are now at the point where they are no longer willing to soldier on like the Good Soldier Sweick, giving Bush and Cheney the benefit of the doubt while they 'surge' more resources into their sink-hole known as Iraq. This duo has produced nothing but defeat and devastation to everything they have touched.

Part II: The Get -'Shooter'-First Plan:

What would it take for me to support an indefinite American occupation of Iraq? Obviously - sine qua non - Bush and Cheney's replacement. But by whom?

I have said before in these pages that I am an American patriot first, and American Progressive second, and a Democrat third. For that reason, I don't need Nancy Pelosi in the White House. I would accept the leadership of conservative Republican Chuck Hagel, for the next two years anyways. He's got the gravitas, guts and gumption: he's ready. Listen to what he says in Esquire:
The president says, 'I don't care.' He's not accountable anymore. He's not accountable anymore, which isn't totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don't know. It depends how this goes.
So Hagel is set to announce his presidential intentions next Monday. His chances of winning a presidential nomination from this Republican party are between slim and none. Unless, that is, he would be running in 2008 as a White House incumbent. How could that happen? That's where the Get-'Shooter'-First scenario comes in:
  1. Cheney resigns or is impeached.
  2. Chuck Hagel is appointed Vice-President.
  3. Bush resigns or is impeached.
  4. Hagel becomes President.
  5. Hagel fires Gonzales and winds down the war.
As I have said, I am an American Patriot who places the welfare of my Country of birth over the Party of my choice. In this spirit of non-partisanship, I offer the Republicans a way out of Iraquagmire without a constitutional crisis of unnecessary complexity and trauma.

Based upon their recent track record, I am confident most Republicans don't have either the brains or the patriotism to consider this offer. But, as the shadows of the Ides of March bear down on us all, I am on the record as being open to a new Republican presidency. As Chuck Hagel says, "If you want a safe job, go sell shoes."

25 Moderated Comments:

Blogger Not Your Mama said...

Have to disagree on Hagel. He has voted lockstep with Bush on every issue EXCEPT Iraq.

Since I believe much of the reason we ended up in Iraq has to do with our "yeehaw, ah'm a patriot" thinking I don't believe Hagel in charge would move us forward in the long run.

He would get us out of Iraq. THAT would be a good thing but our underlying disease would remain intact, in fact would be fed. Opening the door wider for future disasters.

Not to mention his even more hardline "conservative values". I'm not willing to sell out millions of my fellow citizens and their rights to get us out of this war when we have better options.

3/09/2007 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Blogging4Food said...

Pretty quiet in here. Silence of the lambs? Vigil's foray into bipartisanship has not been accepted with flowers and candy strewn at his feet. He is no longer preaching to the choir. If at all present, the choir is not singing. Something is stuck in their throats? The silence is deafening.

3/10/2007 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger Bob Keller said...

vigilante, Thank you for taking up my discussion of the battles of Bagdad and Washington. Your intellectual and highly disciplined analysis of this issue does, indeed, help us all to "engage in a robust dialogue with others who are concerned about the direction in which our country is being led."

My position differs from yours only because I insist we separate the two battles and not allow Iraq to become a pawn in the Washington battle.

The current Democrat Leadership approach is simply unacceptable. In effect the Democrats want to take down Bush by going through Bagdad. The only casualties will be only Iraqi citizens and American soldiers.

Nope. The correct approach is the one outlined on the top right hand corner of every page of your blog:

"Congressional majorities by November '06. Oversight by January '07. Impeachment (double!) by January '08. Troops home by January '09. Quite simple."

In other words, replace the Commander and Chief first, then replace the Generals on the ground in Iraq and bring the troops home.

Thanks for continuing the discussion.....

the Wizard.....

3/10/2007 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger Bob Keller said...

not your mama, I have to wholeheartedly agree with your views on Hagel.

I am not prepared to give up on women's rights, gay rights and potential constitutional freedoms and protections just to have a slightly better chance in changing the course in Middle East.

Right now I don't see a Republican candidate I would support. But, I'm not seeing a lot from the Democrat candidates, either. I know you're a Richardson fan and I'm taking a closer look at him.....

the Wizard.....

3/10/2007 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger Not Your Mama said...

I'm not adamantly opposed to most of the dem candidates, Richardson is just the one I think is the best choice. I'll confess to believing Edwards would be a huge mistake for the country but that's just my opinion. If he were to win the primary I'd have a difficult decision to make. I'm not at all certain I could bring myself to vote for him.

If it came down to a Hagel-Edwards contest, I'm not sure I'd be able to vote at all. Time to emigrate.

3/10/2007 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

NY Mama, Just to clarify a couple of things.

1. Wizard gave me an opportunity to disclose how non-partisan I am and I took it.

2. I have no expectation of having a troubled choice between Hagel and any Democrat in November 2008: (a) Republicans are too dysfunctional to choose Hagel; (b) until Cheney and Bush are behind bars, I will never vote for any Republican [even Schwarzeneggar who shoulda known better than campaign for Bush in 2004]. This pledge is not permanent; but it is a blood-oath that applies for so long as it takes.


I am concerned the American people are falling behind on the timeline to national atonement that I have posted. As I have said before (many times!), such is the mess Bush and Cheney have made, that they should be made to eat their little vanity war in Iraq before they are excused from the table in Washington. It's a token of the importance I attach to their not being permitted to complete their terms of office, that I'm willing to risk giving the GOP a leg up (Hagel's!) on the 2008 Presidential election.

I don't think they'll take it: I just wanted to demonstrate to GOP readers that by doing right by the American people (impeachment) will not leave them naked and defenseless in November of 2008.

3/10/2007 01:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is much better to have a battle in Washington while Baghdad is burning than quiet in Berlin while Stalingrad was grumpling. This much is at least afforded to you despite of your very own dictator wannabe.

However, to suggest having to face a "fork in the road" gives to the whole excercise the legitimacy it clearly doesn't deserve. How can there be such a thing as a fork in the road if the Bush's roadmap is a blank sheet of paper? This is exactly the crux of the matter, Americans are totally lost in the dark of the Iraqi desert with the Dubya's roadmap in their hands and trying to figure out how to proceed. No forks there, folks! He and his ideological "parents", since Ronnie the Evil Empire Layer, just had to wait till 9/11 with their hair-brained ideas to catch on. To correct something that is a pure utopia since it's birth is just not doable.

I do share Vigil's sentiments about the need and urgency to deal with the criminality that is the Bush Administration. These guys are steering the mighties country in the world's history and showing all the signs of impearment and yet they are allowed to go on. You have an airline pilot trying to do the same and in the name of common good and sense, he/she will be stopped and punished. How come, despite the course going straight to the iceberg and we all can see it clearly, these sailors of power drunk necons and their passed out captain, Bush, are allowed to take us all down? I don't get it!

The last point, with the apologies of stretching this so long, is that Hagel, despite my lack of previous knowledge about him, is showing a remarkable fortitude, character and wisdom beyond your wishy-washy and don't rock the boat attitudes that so many Repuplicans and Democrats alike still display. The scenario which Vigil painted out allows me to agree with him in this particular circumstance. Even he knows, that Hagel to become Repuplican president could only materialize in an Hollywood movie and that must have been partially his point. Good job, amigo!

3/10/2007 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Keller said...

pekka, I'm shocked by your comments. We almost always agree, but not today.

This is not an academic exercise. Real people with real lives are at stake.

Deal with ""the criminality that is the Bush Administration" right here in Washington. Deal with it first. Leave Iraq on the back burner.

But until the "progressives" have people in power in Washington to make the real decisions and/or negotiate with our allies in Europe and the middle east and clean up the mess, then leave General Petreaus and the troops to do the job with which they have been charged.

The only other option (if you don't wish to Impeach Bush) is to totally cut off funding and bring all the troops home today. I could back that option.

But we play right into the Bush neocon's hands by following the "death by a thoudsand cuts" strategy.

3/10/2007 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

If Pekka had been riding with him at the time, Col. Custer would have won the Battle of the Little Big Horn. I'm gratified (very) that he's riding with me now.

3/10/2007 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger Not Your Mama said...

Chuck Hagel. You decide.

Vote YES to eliminate the federal minimum wage.

Voted NO on allowing reimportation of Rx drugs from Canada.

Voted YES on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration. (Jun 2006)

Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)

Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping. (Oct 2001)

Voted NO on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. (Jun 2000

Voted NO on setting aside 10% of highway funds for minorities & women. (Mar 1998)

Voted YES on ending special funding for minority & women-owned business. (Oct 1997)

Supports anti-flag desecration amendment.

Voted NO on repealing tax subsidy for companies which move US jobs offshore.

Voted YES on restricting rules on personal bankruptcy.

Voted NO on banning drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Mar 2005)

Voted YES on Bush Administration Energy Policy.

Voted NO on including oil & gas smokestacks in mercury regulations.

Voted NO on establishing the Senate Office of Public Integrity.

3/10/2007 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

Darth Spoilboy has friends over tonight and the last thing he wants is dad hanging around so I'll have to be brief.

As for "the fork in the road" Tom Friedman has said the same thing, we will either be out in ten months or we will be there for ten years. But staying will require a complete restart of the whole project with amny many more troops. So unless someone can fart about 300,000 new, fresh soldiers and marines the ten year road just won't work. And we can't keep up the same pace with the troops we have.

As for a repub taking the reins over from Bush/Cheney, Hagel would be that guy. Like everyone else hanging around here already knows pigs will sprout genetically engineered wing before that happens but such is our loss due to Hagel's combat experience. He would at least have an understanding of what the troops are going through along with an idea of how to proceed to get us out. Yes Hagel is a conservative but right now we are sending guys and gals into a meaningless hell along with shoveling hundreds of billions into a black hole to save Bush's reputation at a minimum until 2008. So while I would not vote for him in a general election I feel he could handle the situation in the Middle East.

Got to run I have three eleven year-olds getting ready to toss me down the stairs.

3/10/2007 07:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wizard, I never realized that we have been in the mutual agreement before but I am flatered that, according to you, this is the case. If you knew me, I am afraid, you would find a lot more to disagree.

First of all, I am in total agreement with you that this is indeed the matter of life and death to those poor souls that live in Iraq. As I see it, not a second of valuable time should be wasted by not conducting robust negotiations within the factions in the country and all the regional players should be involved, too. This approach, even if it has little chance to succeed in this late state, should be still given all the support. What else is there left? Unfortunatelly, not too many of the participants are overly eager to do talking bacause so much bad blood has been created during this the most stupid occupation of them all. The shakers and movers there are now ready to go after the jackpot, and if it takes to kill a few hundred thousand other guys, so be it.

In my mind, these negotiations should have been started years ago to have had a positive effect. They weren't because of the failed assumption by the Bush Admin. that the introduction of democracy would have been a force strong enough to turn the regional nations, one by one like the dominos, to embrace the neocon values. This sounds today even more absurd than when I frist heard it sometimes in around 2002.

As the stark reality is now in Iraq, there really is no role for the Americans to play. That they are semi-accepted by some there is based on the leg-up it offers to them. The power vacuum that was created by ousting Uncle Saddam has not been filled because the so called government hardly can be said to be in charge. Now, your presence in Iraq seem to do one thing, it keeps the ultimate power struggle somewhat in wraps and if you plan to stay there, oh, lets say the next 25 yrs, it might or might not have some benefits. You might have to start asking yourself, if there is stomack, tolerance and willingness on your part to keep excercising this futility that long? If you are not prepared to stay as long as it takes or as long as your defeat is making it totally impossible to stay, get out now.

Yes, my heart bleeds for the innocents in Iraq but since your presence is not going to make any difference any way, maybe the unavoidable has to be let to take place. How awful mess these steely eyed neocon ideologs unleashed upon humanity is clear. They did it also so "well" that there seem to be only one final act left to play, the whole out blood letting to commence to settle by Iraqis what their country will be. America has played herself out and offers no real solution.

3/10/2007 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

Watching Koppel's Discovery channel special on Bush's war on terror right now and in this segment he is examining the "independent contractors" such as Blackwater. Did anyone else see this segment and did it give anyone else a major case of the creeps beside me?

3/11/2007 06:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aaah, Koppel! Haven't seen him since the Night Line was repacaged and improved for those whom prefere the sizzle over the stake.

3/11/2007 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger DB Cooper said...

Vigilante, to what degree does the thrust of your thesis here argue that preventing another American civil war must take precedence over resolving the civil wars in Iraq?

3/12/2007 05:49:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

DB Cooper and NY Mama, Pekka gets me:

(1) there's not much of a chance for impeachment.
(2) what chance there is lies in GOP participation, especially in the Senate.
(3) therefore Republicans need to be incentivized: offer them the possibility of an incumbent in the White House in 2008.

I care more about preventing Bush from completing his 2nd term than optimizing Democrats' chances in 2008.

3/12/2007 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Not Your Mama said...

I care more about preventing Bush from completing his 2nd term than optimizing Democrats' chances in 2008.

Mixed feelings about that but mostly agree. I could live with nearly anyone for the next 2 years if it got rid of Bush-Cheney.

The reason I do care so much about a Democratic win in '08 goes a lot deeper than partisanship though. Actually a subject for an entirely new post. Short version is: I think it's critical to prevent two likely scenarios,

1. Finding ourselves rushing headlong into another foolish endeavor and

2. Finding the greatest threat to our country coming from within our own country.

3/13/2007 12:37:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Do you realize that if Bush completes this term of office on 20 January 2009, he will have the last laugh at everyone's expense after having screwed America by raping Iraq for the preceding five (5!) years and 307 days? You want that, if you could possibly avoid it?

3/13/2007 04:54:00 AM  
Blogger Not Your Mama said...

You want that, if you could possibly avoid it?

Huh? I thought I just said "no".

I'm willing to support nearly any measure that would remove Bush-Cheney from office ASAP. I'm only one person though, most people are not going to go along with any solutions that do not fit in exactly with their own personal beliefs and agenda. Be realistic, we wage wars over what network to broadcast a debate on, you think we'll sit back and try to get along for two years to prevent further destruction of our country and Iraq? Never going to happen my friend.

The only thing I disputed was your support for Hagel in '08 which has nothing to do with removing Bush-Cheney from office.

There is also no realistic chance in Hades of Hagel being appointed to sit in to complete the current presidential cycle. No legal means of doing so and definitely not in line with our laws and the established chain-of-command. Even assuming it were possible to garner support to essentially rewrite our laws the bickering over who to appoint would overshadow any benefit that might be gained from such a move.

Our troubles with Iraq and the entire ME region are not going to fizzle and go away as soon as we withdraw our troops. We can't afford to remove the current administration only to squabble for the next 6 months over "who's our daddy" while we need to remain focused on diplomacy and negotiations.

The only legal result of impeachment would put Nancy Pelosi at the helm. Much as many would not like that, that is the established legal order.

Pelosi is no gibbering ninny, she's perfectly aware of the Pelosi-phobia in America hence her reluctance to push for impeachment proceedings. We've done it to ourselves as usual.

If by some miraculous chain of events it should come to pass, Pelosi could possibly sidestep some of the yeehaw outrage by appointing a special "presidential advisory committee". Hagel would be one excellent choice to be a part of such a committee. That's a highly unlikely, theoretical outcome because as I said, our own Pelosi-phobia is the greatest obstacle to impeachment at this point.

We keep complaining about our terrible government but the reasons we have it are in our mirrors. Truth hurts sometimes.

3/13/2007 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger Messenger said...


"There is also no realistic chance in Hades of Hagel being appointed to sit in to complete the current presidential cycle. No legal means of doing so and definitely not in line with our laws and the established chain-of-command.

Cheney's Ousted. Hagel Nominated by Prez and confirmed by Senate to take his place. Bush resigns to avoid impeachment. Hagel succeeds to Presidency and pardons everyone. Hagel runs in 2008 as an incumbent and loses the same way and for many of the same reasons Gerald Ford lost to Carter.

No one pretends this is a likely scenario. For one thing, the Republicans would most likely have a knock-down throw-out fight over who among them they would have Bush nominate. Remember, Bush can't make a decision without Cheney at his elbow or in the next room. Unless the Bush-Cheney-Neocon team spontaneously combusted or imploded over Iraq, they are unlikely to pick Hagel, the ex-Vietnam vet/peace candidate.

All the talk about impeachment in general hinges on Senate Republicans becoming unhinged on something which now only lingers in our twilight zone. Not a reason not to talk it up now, though, IMHO. Always good to have a rope or two ready, close at hand, eh?

3/13/2007 02:53:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

It looks like you 'get it', too.

Some time ago, Salon published a column which asked in its title, “Should Democrats get mad, or get even?”

It's my case that that is still what divides Democrats. The 'get even' division is the cool-headed, cold-blooded Liberal lot that wants to suppress their resentment until Bush is out of office, elect an 'electable' candidate and get even. The 'get-mad' Progressive crowd, I would argue, has a totally human response to what Bush Inc. has done to everything American; they have the totally human and populist impulse to fooking kick his ass.

In in 2004, the Get-Even 'Liberal' school got their candidate, Kerry; The Get-Mad Progressives were denied their candidate, Howard Dean. End result: America has been screwed (twice).

Now the same divisions abound. The 'Get-Even' crew want to wait Bush out (what, 680 days?) and Hillary Clinton's presidency is assured.

I think present circumstances call more for the Get-Mad mob. No presidential cabal in American history has deserved more to have their term of office interrupted than these Bush warmongers and their Weimar Republican supporters.

For me, it's not a deal-breaker to say impeachment is not realistic without bipartisan support. That's the way it's supposed to be. It's supposed to be difficult and rare. But that's the only way Republicans, who are true conservatives and patriots, can cleanse their party. Are they incorrigible lemmings? Possibly. (All right: probably.

Still I say, out-reach & impeach!

3/13/2007 10:06:00 PM  
Blogger DB Cooper said...

How important was to concept of IMPEACHMENT to our FOUNDERS?

Do you know HOW MANY TIMES the word IMPEACHMENT appears in our CONSTITUTION?

There's your answer.....

3/16/2007 06:35:00 AM  
Blogger Tyrone Ferrara said...

Revelation 13:5 - Are we in this 42 month period?

3/22/2007 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Matthew Dowd switched parties, joined Mr. Bush’s political brain trust and dedicated the next six years to getting him to the Oval Office and keeping him there. In 2004, he was appointed the president’s chief campaign strategist. He now says, he was wrong and “Kerry Was Right,”

4/01/2007 07:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With Congress passing a resolution to bring the troops home by next year, we are one step closer to ending this idiotic war. However, our president has threatened to veto this bill and not commit to setting a date to bring the troops home. Frankly, he's got a year and a half left and does not really care — he will stick to his guns just to prove a point and let his successor deal with his mess. And what a mess he's leaving behind.

I say we need another resolution to pass. Impeach this president and his lame administration. Our country will be better off without him.

4/03/2007 09:21:00 AM  

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